God's presence is his working. His presence in a soul by his Spirit is his working in such a soul in some special manner, not common to all men, but peculiar to them whom he hath chosen. Now his dwelling is nothing else but a continued, familiar and endless working in a soul, till he hath conformed all within to the image of his Son. The soul is the office house, or workhouse, that the Spirit hath taken up, to frame in it the most curious piece of the whole creation, even to restore and repair that masterpiece, which came last from God's hand, ab ultima manu, and so was the chiefest. I mean, the image of God, in righteousness and holiness. Now, this is the bond of union between God and us: Christ is the bond of union with God, but the Spirit is the bond of union with Christ. Christ is the peace between God and us, that makes of two one, but the Spirit is the link between Christ and us, whereby he hath immediate and actual interest in us, and we in him. I find the union between Christ and soul shadowed out in scripture, by the nearest relations among creatures, (for truly these are but shadows, and that is the body or substance,) and because an union that is mutual is nearest, it is often so expressed, as it imports an interchangeable relation, a reciprocal conjunction with Christ. The knot is cast on both sides to make it strong. Christ in us, and we in him; God dwelling in us, and we in him, and both by this one Spirit, 1 John iv.13. "Hereby we know that God dwelleth in us, and we in him, by his Spirit which he hath given us." You find it often in John, who being most possessed with the love of Christ, and most sensible of his love could best express it: "I in them, and they in me. He that keepeth his commands dwelleth in him, and he in him," as the names of married persons are spelled through other, so doth he spell out this indwelling; it is not cohabitation but inhabitation: neither that alone singly, but mutual inhabitation, which amounts to a kind of penetration, the most intimate and immediate presence imaginable. Christ dwelleth in our hearts by faith; and we dwell in Christ by love, Eph. iii.17 , and 1 John iv. Death bringeth him into the heart; for it is the very application of a Saviour to a sinful soul. It is the very applying of his blood and sufferings to the wound that sin made in the conscience; the laying of that sacrifice propitiatory to the wounded conscience, is that which heals it, pacifies it, and calms it. A Christian, by receiving the offer of the gospel cordially and affectionately brings in Christ offered into his house, and then salvation comes with him. Therefore believing is receiving, (John i.) the very opening of the heart to let in an offered Saviour; and then Christ, thus possessing the heart by faith, he works by love, and "he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him." Love hath this special value in it, that it transports the soul in a manner out of itself to the Beloved, Cant. iv.9. Anima est ubi amat, non ubi animat;(196) the fixing and establishing of the heart on God is a dwelling in him; for the constant and most continued residence of the most serious thoughts and affections, will be their dwelling in their all-fulness and riches of grace in Jesus Christ. As the Spirit dwelleth where he worketh, so the soul dwelleth where it delighteth; its complacency in God making a frequent issue or outgoing to him in desires and breathings after him; and by means of this same, God dwelleth in the heart, for love is the opening up of the inmost chamber of the heart to him, it brings in the Beloved into the very secrets of the soul, to lie all night betwixt his breasts as a bundle of myrrh, Cant. i.13. And indeed all the sweet odours of holy duties, and all the performing of good works and edifying speeches, spring out only, and are sent forth, from this bundle of myrrh that lies betwixt the breasts of a Christian, in the inmost of his heart, from Christ dwelling in the affections of the soul.
Now, this being the bond of union betwixt Christ and us, it follows, necessarily, that whosoever hath not the Spirit of Christ, "he is none of his;" and this is subjoined for prevention or removal of the misapprehensions and delusions of men in their self-judgings; because self-love blinds our eyes, and maketh our hearts deceive themselves. We are given to this self-flattery, -- to pretend and claim to an interest in Jesus Christ, even though there be no more evidence for it than the external relation that we have to Christ, as members of his visible body, or partakers of a common influence of his Spirit. There are some external bonds and ties to Christ, which are like a knot that may easily be loosed if any thing get hold of the end of it; as by our relations to Christ by baptism, hearing the word, your outward covenanting to be his people; all these are loose unsure knots; it is as easy to untie them as to tie them, yea, and more easy; and yet many have no other relation to Christ than what these make. But it is only the Spirit of Christ given to us that entitles and interesteth us in him, and him in us. It is the Spirit working in your souls mightily and continually, making your hearts temples for the offering of the sacrifice of prayer and praises, casting out all idols out of these temples, that he alone may be adored and worshipped, by the affectionate service of the heart, purging them from all filthiness of flesh and spirit. It is the Spirit, I say, thus dwelling in men that maketh them living members of the true body of Christ, lively, joined to the Head, -- Christ. This maketh him yours and you his; by virtue of this he may command you as his own, and you may use and employ him as your own. Now, for want of this, in most part of men, they also want this living saving interest in Christ. They have no real but an imaginary and notional propriety and right to the Lord Jesus; for Christ must first take possession of us by his Spirit before we have any true right to him, or can willingly resign ourselves to him, and give him right over us. What shall it profit us, my beloved, to be called Christians, and to esteem ourselves so, if, really, we be none of Christ's? Shall it not heighten our condemnation so much the more that we desire to pass for such and give out ourselves so, and yet have no inward acquaintance and interest in him whose name we love to bear? Are not the most part shadows and pictures of true Christians, bodies without the soul of Christianity, that is, the Spirit of Christ, whose hearts are treasures of wickedness and deceit, and storehouses of iniquity and ignorance? It may be known what treasure fills the heart by that which is the constant and common vent of it, as our Saviour speaks, Matt. xv.19; and xii.34, 35, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh," the feet walk, and the hand works. Consider, then, if the Spirit of God dwelleth in such unclean habitations and dark dungeons; certainly no uncleanness or darkness of the house can hinder him to come in; but it is a sure argument and evidence that he is not as yet come in, because the prince of darkness is not yet cast out of many souls, nor yet the unclean spirits that lodge within; these haunt your hearts, and are as familiar now as ever. Sure I am, many souls have never yet changed their guests, and it is as sure that the first guest that taketh up the soul is darkness and desperate wickedness, with unparalleled deceitfulness. There is an accursed trinity, instead of that blessed Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and when this holy Trinity cometh in to dwell, that other of hell must go out. Now, my beloved, do you think this a light matter, to be disowned by Jesus Christ? Truly, the word of Christ, which is the character of all our evidences and rights for heaven, disowns many as bastards and dead members, withered branches, and, certainly, according to this word he will judge you, "the word that I have spoken shall judge you in the last day." O that is a heavy word! You have the very rule and method of proceeding laid down before you now, which shall be punctually kept at that great day. Now, why do you not read your ditty(197) and condemnatory sentence here registered? If you do not read it now in your consciences, he will one day read it before men and angels, and pronounce this, -- I know you not for mine, you are none of mine. But if you would now take it to your hearts, there might be hope that it should go no further, and come to no more public-hearing, there were hope that it should be repealed before that day, because the first entry of the Spirit of Christ is to convince men of sin, that they are unbelievers, and without God in the world, and if this were done, then it were more easy to convince you of Christ's righteousness, and persuade you to embrace it, and this would lead in another link of the chain, -- the conviction of judgment, to persuade you to resign yourselves to the Spirit's rule, and renounce the kingdom of Satan; this were another trinity, a trinity upon earth, three bearing witness on the earth that you have the Spirit of God.
Verse 10. -- "And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin," &c.
All the preceding verses seem to be purposely set down by the apostle for the comfort of Christians against the remnants of sin and corruption within them, for in the preceding chapter, he personates the whole body of Christ militant, showing, in his own example, how much sin remains in the holiest in this life, and this he rather instances in his own person than another that all may know that matter of continual sorrow and lamentation is furnished to the chiefest of saints, and yet, in this chapter, he propounds the consolation of Christians more generally, that all may know that these privileges and immunities belong even to the meanest and weakest of Christians, -- that, as the best have reason to mourn in themselves, so the worst want not reason to rejoice in Jesus Christ. And this should always be minded that the amplest grounds of the strongest consolation are general to all that come indeed to Jesus Christ, and are not restricted unto saints of such and such a growth and stature. The common principles of the gospel are more full of this milk of consolation, if you would suck it out of them, than many particular grounds which you are laying down for yourselves. God hath so disposed and contrived the work of our salvation, that in this life he that hath gathered much, in some respect, hath nothing over -- that is to say, hath no more reason to boast than another, but will be constrained to sit down and mourn over his own evil heart, and the emptiness of it, and he that hath gathered less hath, in some sense, no want. I mean, he is not excluded and shut out from the right to these glorious privileges which may express gloriation and rejoicing from the heart, that there might be an equality in the body, he maketh the stronger Christian to partake with the weaker in his bitter things, and the weaker with the stronger in his sweet things, that none of them may conceive themselves either despised, or alone regarded, that the eunuch may not have reason to say, "I am a dry tree," Isa. lvi.3. For, behold the Lord will give, even to such, "a place" in his house, and "a name better than of sons and daughters." The soul that is in sincerity aiming at this walk, and whose inward desires stir after more of this Holy Spirit, he will not refuse to such that name and esteem that they dare not take to themselves because of their seen and felt unworthiness. Now, in this verse he proceeds further to the fruits and effects of sin dwelling in us, to enlarge the consolation against that too. Now, If Christ be in you, the body, &c. Seeing the word of God hath made such a connection between sin and death, and death is the wages of sin, and that which is the just recompense of enmity and rebellion against God, the poor troubled soul might be ready to conceive that if the body be adjudged to death for sin, that the rest of the wages shall be paid, and sin having so much dominion as to kill the body, that it should exerce(198) its full power to destroy all. Seeing we have a visible character of the curse of God engraven on us in the mortality of our bodies, it may look with such a visage on a soul troubled for sin, as if it were but earnest of the full curse and weight of wrath, and that sin were not fully satisfied for, nor justice fully contented by, Christ's ransom. Now, he opposes to this misconception the strongest ground of consolation -- if Christ be in you, though your bodies must die for sin, because sin dwelleth in them, yet that Spirit of life that is in you hath begun eternal life in your souls, your spirits are not only immortal in being, but that eternal happy being is begun in you, the seeds of it are cast into your souls, and shall certainly grow up to perfection of holiness and happiness, and this through the righteousness of Christ which assureth that state unto you. The comfort is, it is neither total, for it is only the death of your body, nor is it perpetual, for your bodies shall be raised again to life eternal, verse 11. And not only is it only in part, and for a season, but it is for a blessed end and purpose it is that sin may be wholly cleansed out that this tabernacle is taken down, as the leprous houses(199) were to be taken down under the law, and as now we use to cast down pest lodges, the better to cleanse them of the infection. It is not to prejudge him of life, but to install him in a better life. Thus you see that it is neither total nor perpetual, but it is medicinal and profitable to the soul, -- it is but the death of the body for a moment, and the life of the soul for ever.